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Stopping for a moment to make time to breathe, really breathe, can do wonders for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

According to the American Lung Association, practicing intentional breathing techniques can strengthen and hone your lungs just as physical exercise strengthens muscles and keeps your heart healthy.

Breathing techniques can really help you in stressful, intense, frightening, and emotional situations. Though our bodies rely on such fight-or-flight reactions in dangerous situations, the continued triggering of this can really start to affect us negatively.

Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to our brains and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This in turn promotes calmness.

If you are feeling stressed or anxious, deep breathing is especially helpful as it brings your awareness away from your issues for a moment and helps you to focus on something else.

Even if you feel in tip-top shape, practicing some intentional breathing can be a crucial part of cultivating mindfulness.

Breathing techniques are also something to practice when you find that you can’t get to sleep. They can really help to relax you are quiet your mind.

Whatever your reasons for needing to stop a moment and breathe, check out some of these breathing techniques that you can practice quietly on your own.

If you feel any strange sensations, dizziness, or nausea during a breathing exercise, sit or lie down and return to normal breathing.

1. Box Breath

Source: CHI Health/YouTube

Box breathing, or square breathing, is a really simple breathing technique that can reset your breathing to a normal pattern. It can help with stress, mood, and controlling your emotions.

The best way to visualize box breathing is to imagine breathing around a box.

  • Inhale for four seconds (imagine moving across the top of a box)
  • Hold your breath for four seconds (imagine moving down one side of the box)
  • Exhale for four seconds (imagine moving across the bottom of the box)
  • Hold your breath for four seconds (imagine moving up the other side fo the box)

Return or normal breathing after you have finished.

2. Lion’s Breath

This is a breathing exercise and pose that is practiced in yoga. Lion’s breath is a type of pranayama, a practice of breath regulation that is thought to Support mental and physical wellness.

Source: Yoga With Adriene/YouTube

It is done to help release negative energy, stimulate your vocal cords and your diaphragm, and relax facial and throat muscles.

  • Sit on a chair, or sit cross-legged or on your knees on a mat on the floor. Be comfortable.
  • Bring your hands to the tops of your knees and gently press to activate your arm and hand muscles. Keep your fingers spread wide.
  • Inhale deeply.
  • Open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue pointing it downwards towards the floor. While doing this, exhale audibly.
  • Practice up to five times and return for regular breathing for a few moments afterward.

3. Diaphragmatic Breath

Source: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/YouTube

Your diaphragm is a muscle that helps you breathe. Your diaphragm is located at the point where your ribcage joins at the front of your torso, below your chest. If you put your hand here and cough, you might be able to feel it tense.

This exercise helps to strengthen your diaphragm and decrease your breath rate. This exercise is best done lying down, though you can do it sitting up, too.

  • Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe in through your nose. Allow your tummy to rise, but try to keep your chest still.
  • As you exhale, feel your tummy lowering.
  • Do this for three to five minutes.

4. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Source: Yoga With Adriene/YouTube

Here we have another pranayama yoga technique. Practicing alternate nostril breathing is thought to help calm the nervous system, and relieve tension, stress, and anxiety.

You can practice this exercise sitting on a chair or sitting on the floor cross-legged.  Just be comfortable.

  • Exhale completely.
  • Use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril.
  • Then, close your left nostril with your finger and exhale through your right nostril.
  • Inhale through the right nostril, close it, then exhale through your left nostril.
  • This is one cycle. Continue.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Consult a medical professional before embarking on breathing techniques if you have any health conditions (mental or physical), are pregnant, or are taking any medications. 

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